We here at BBL were just as excited as you probably were to read about the Mediterranean diet study that hit the front page of The New York Times this week. In case you missed it, a recent study of over 7,000 participants (men and women in Spain, aged 55 to 80) at high risk for heart disease found who following a Mediterranean diet lowered their risk for heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease by about 30 percent. Starting in October of 2003, participants were split into two groups: One was given guidance about how to follow a Mediterranean diet (including free olive oil every week!), the other was instructed to follow a low-fat diet. The low-fat group had trouble sticking to their diet, but the participants following the Mediterranean diet had such great success in lowering their heart disease risk that researchers ended the study early, after only five years.
So what’s included in this miracle diet? Extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, white meat — and a glass of wine with dinner. What’s not to like? (Well, you do need to avoid commercially made sweets and limit dairy and processed meat products, but that’s worth it in our book to take a sizable dent out of your heart disease risk.)
So, now that we have confirmation that these ingredients are great for us, what can we cook with them? Below we’ve rounded up six great Mediterranean cookbooks that will help you answer that question.
The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook
by Nancy Harmon Jenkins
Alice Waters sums up Jenkins’ collection of simple and flavorful recipes best: “This book makes an overwhelming argument that the things that taste the best are good for you.”
The Mediterranean Prescription
by Dr. Angelo Acquista
Meal plans and recipes designed to help you lose weight, from a respected doctor experienced in weight-loss counseling.
A Book of Mediterranean Food
by Elizabeth David
A lovely collection of dishes from the south of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and the Middle East.
From Tapas to Meze
by Joanne Weir
More than 220 small plate recipes from home cooks and restaurant chefs around the Mediterranean.
Cooking Well: Mediterranean
by Marie-Annick Courtier
Quick and easy Mediterranean favorites with a focus on omega-3s.
Ancient Grains for Modern Meals
By Maria Speck
Mediterranean whole grain recipes, including barley, farro, kamut, polenta, wheat berries and more.